Farmington Hotel, Margibi County - The President of the Republic, Dr. George Manneh Weah has signed the Farmington River Declaration 2023, which commits political parties and actors to ensure a peaceful and non-violent electoral process.
The Declaration, signed by about 27 political parties, was carved and presented to Liberian politicians by the international community led by the Economic Community of West African States and the United Nations aimed at compelling political parties to uphold the peace and security of the country and ensure that the 2023 electoral process is free of violence.
Delivering a special statement at the historic occasion held Tuesday, April 4, 2023 at the Farmington Hotel in Margibi County, President Weah said the pending election presents an opportunity for the country to strengthen a deepening political culture that has at its core freedom, justice, and equality, and the respect of human rights, including the rights of women and children.
President Weah further noted that elections will also provide the platform for Liberia to continue to demonstrate its unreserved commitment to the protection of the rights of all citizens, as enshrined in the Constitution.
He emphasized that the elections will be the first to be primarily organized and administered by Liberia, since the drawdown of UNMIL, noting that since his incumbency in 2018, the National Elections Commission has successfully conducted several by-elections and a referendum that were recognized by all stakeholders as peaceful, free, fair, and transparent.
He said these conditions place upon all political stakeholders, including the ruling party as well as the opposition parties, civil society, the media, and all Liberians, to recognize the centrality of peace during these elections, and work collectively to deliver what he called "a credible, inclusive, and peaceful process"
He reminded the gathering of political party leaders that Liberia is a post-conflict success story that must continue on the path of democracy, peace and security.
President Weah described the signing of the Farmington Hotel Declaration as another milestone achievement that must be admired and celebrated.
"It marks a symbolic celebration of 20 years of uninterrupted peace since the signing of the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2003, most of which was under the supervision of what was once the largest United Nations Peacekeeping Force, comprising 15 thousand soldiers and administrators," he recollected.
“We have now enjoyed five years of sustained and unbroken peace since I assumed the Office of President of Liberia on January 22, 2018."
"The transformation is stark,” he said, adding, “Liberia is now contributing troops as part of United Nations peacekeeping forces in several countries in Africa, instead of requiring peacekeepers to maintain peace in our country.”
He said Liberians, for the most part of the years, worked positively to consolidate the peace, stressing that it is imperative that Liberians reject and condemn those who would seek to take the country back to the dark days.
“I am proud of what we have achieved as a nation, and equally happy that we have maximized the external support we have received on our journey to this level,” he said.
According to him, it would be a manifestation of the strengthening and showcasing of Liberia’s democratic credentials, resilience and relentless commitment to upholding the tenets of democracy if the upcoming elections were peacefully and credibly held.
He commended political leaders and their respective political parties for resolving to sign the second Farmington River Declaration, which he maintained signifies their commitment and readiness to pursue the path of a peaceful, free, fair, transparent, inclusive and credible democratic elections on October 10.
President Weah insists that the peaceful conduct of the election will elevate Liberia's standard as a democratic nation.
“With a guaranteed and successful democratic exercise, we will further demonstrate our readiness for sustained peace, security, stability and development,” he said further.
“This signing is a gesture which further indicates that we political leaders are sending a strong signal to our partisans, supporters, well-wishers, and followers, and also to the entire world, of our unflinching commitment and preparedness to conduct peaceful, free, fair, transparent, inclusive and credible democratic Presidential and Legislative elections on October 10 this year, and to accept the will of the Liberian People as will be expressed through the ballot box,” Dr. Weah maintained.
President Weah argued that the Peace Pledge signed by political parties is about demonstrating the patriotism and statesmanship they need as political leaders to speak peace to the nation, and place Liberia ahead of personal ambitions.
The President maintained that the peace and non-violence Pledge they, as political leaders have made in writing and signing, will serve as a testament of their firm commitment to national stability, security, peace and development.
President Weah also called upon all political parties, supporters and the wider electorate to “follow our lead and support us in the fulfillment of the promises made today to the people of Liberia and the world, especially the pledge to prevent violence in our elections.”
“Let me pinpoint the need for all of us political leaders and our political parties, supporters, and the electorate in general, to also uphold the pledge to prevent violence against women in the elections, and treat our women with civility and with respect,” President Weah opined.
The Liberian Chief Executive emphasized that the promotion of peace is the shared responsibility of all stakeholders in Liberia, urging them to play their respective roles appropriately and effectively.
The President said it was high time they pursued this common interest with sincerity and goodwill, with a view to strengthening Liberia's democratic credentials and value, not only for these forthcoming elections, but for future elections that will benefit and safeguard all the generations to come.
The President urged all stakeholders with vested interest in the October elections to avoid incendiary language and what he said he perceives to be a growing culture of militancy, which can have the propensity to quickly spill over into violence.
He said such vices must be discouraged by all Liberians, while reminding the media and civil society of the crucial role they have to play in the process.
“Rhetoric that whips up old divisions and puts tribes and regions against one another, must be discouraged,” the President warned. “We as political leaders must have a duty and responsibility to prevail on all of the members within the ranks of our various institutions to desist from actions that could lead to violence.”
President Weah insisted that, in spite of varying political interest amongst parties and politicians, the cause of maintaining peace and bringing everyone together must be supreme.
“And so today, as we sign the 2023 Farmington River Declaration, I call upon all political leaders in this room to ensure that our supporters, and the wider electorate who follow us, will also adhere to the spirit of this Agreement that we have signed before God and the whole World, as we jointly work to fulfil the promises that we have made therein,” President said.